Pot roast is a popular winter meal; the rich tender beef is warming and flavorful. This recipe was probably my husband’s absolute favorite. When I started it off in the cast iron enamel Dutch oven, he’d invariably sniff the air and say “Oh, that SMELLS so GOOD.” “It’s just onions, honey” but he wasn’t fooled. Pot roast was in prospect and he knew it. He was a very tall skinny guy who never felt “full” and pot roast was savory and satisfying. Unfortunately, a big eater will not leave leftovers, which are the bonus of this recipe. The roast is even better reheated. So plan accordingly. If you have a larger family and big eaters, the larger the roast, the better. I typically make 2 1/2 lbs to 3 lbs for two people, hoping for leftovers.
This recipe is also minimal but works as well, or better, I think, that the ones that use a packet of salad dressing mix, dried onion soup, a stick of butter and any other number of things I just don’t think are necessary. To make this an easier meal, include some small Yukon potatoes halfway through the cooking, but I actually prefer mine cooked separately.
Pot Roast My Way
One 2 1/2 to 3 lb chuck roast
Cup of red wine (I like Apothic Red as a cooking wine; it’s well balanced and the slight sweetness seems to work with many foods. And you can drink it, right enough. Most wine stores have it and it’s cheap. Otherwise, use a red like a Merlot or Cab or Shiraz, the cheap Aussie wines work fine.)
1/3 can of tomato paste (Organic is good.)
1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 good sized spoon of beef “fond” or concentrated stock. I use “Better Than Bouillon”
Water, about 1 cup.
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper as desired.
Heavy bottomed pot, such as a Le Creuset enamel dutch oven (but any heavy type Dutch oven with work.)
Optional: peeled medium Yukon potatoes.
Method: you can do this in the oven at 300 degrees, but I actually do mine on the stove top.
Season the meat. Brown meat on all sides in some olive oil. Add in the quartered onion and soften a bit. Add in the red wine and cook down somewhat, until it’s about half gone, reducing the alcohol and the volume. Add in the spoon of beef base and some water to come up to about half the height of the beef. Toss in the bay leaf (you can use a thyme sprig or a rosemary sprig if you prefer) and cover. Cook on low heat, so that it’s simmering but not boiling for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is tender and separating. About an hour and a half in, toss in your potatoes if you want, and check liquid to make sure it’s not drying out. If you are doing it in the oven, it will take about 4 hours. You can use a crock pot on high, but I find it does not thicken up the way it does on the stove top because crock pots are great at preserving moisture compared to stove cooking. But it will work. I typically do stove top for 2 3/4 hour for a 2 1/2 to 3 lb roast.
Slice and serve with the gravy. Nice with it: boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, blanched green beans or steamed Romanesque cauliflower or broccoli.
Re Tomato Paste:
Since American tomato paste comes in cans, and one rarely uses the entire can, take out the rest of it and twist it into parchment paper, or a ziploc bag, even aluminum foil and freeze it. You can cut off another chunk without even thawing, the next time you need tomato paste. Tube tomato paste is convenient but expensive, you’d need about 2 1/2 Tbs here. Organic paste in a can is pretty easy to find in any grocery store these days: Hunts, Nature’s Promise, Contadina all make organic paste.